6 Answers to the most frequently asked questions about tenancy agreements

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Creating a tenancy agreement doesn't have to be hard. But there are several questions we hear time and time again. Read on for information on the important things to remember.

1. Do I need a written tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement must be in writing, and both a landlord and a tenant should have a copy of it.

If whatever reason there is no signed written agreement, the Residential Tenancies Act will still apply. The absence of the agreement is not an excuse to avoid your responsibilities under the Act.

To avoid potential misunderstandings, it is essential to have a written agreement in place. Nothing is as good as a written contract. Having a paper trail will help you avoid problems down the track.

2. What is better a periodic or fixed-term tenancy?

This is an impossible question to answer and depends on your circumstances and preferences.

A fixed-term tenancy provides stability and more concrete future. The tenancy runs for a specific period set out in the agreement and only ends when the term ends. A landlord nor tenants can end it earlier (unless by mutual consent).

A periodic tenancy provides flexibility. There is no set end dates and continues until someone gives the notice to end it. With the correct notice, the rent can be increased, and the terms can be changed.

Learn more about the difference between periodic and fixed-term tenancies

3. I would like to add an additional term to the agreement. How do I know if it's enforceable?

Legal expertise is required when adding additional clauses because they are not enforceable if they contradict the Residential Tenancies Act. Breaches of the Residential Tenancy Act are treated seriously by the Tenancy Tribunal.

In general, a landlord can add clauses that relate to things that can damage the house or cause extra wear and tear and not conflict with the tenancy or any other laws or contradict other terms in the agreement.

Learn more about additing additional terms to a tenancy agreement

4. What are body corporate rules, and how do they affect my tenants?

Flats and apartments fall under the Unit Titles Act 2010. Body corporate rules are a set of operational rules, which apply to all unit title properties. They cover things like common property laws, rubbish and recycling rules, parking standards, pets policies etc. Some body corporate rules address overcrowding. It is important to attach a copy of Body corporate rules to the tenancy agreement, to make sure tenants are familiar with them.

To learn more about Unit Titles and Body Corporate, check out new Tenancy Services website

5. What is the difference between an insulation certificate and insulation statement?

To be clear, an insulation certificate is not the same as an insulation statement.

An insulation statement is a compulsory statement that needs to be filled out by landlords as part of their tenancy agreement. This is a mandatory requirement under both Minimum Insulation Standards and Healthy Homes Standards.

Find Insulation Statement template here

An insulation certificate is a document supplied by an insulation installer to confirm the type and the level of insulation installed at your rental property.

You do not have to obtain an insulation certificate to meet the Standards, nor are you required to share it with your tenants.

6. The tenants asked to change the agreement after everyone signed it. Do I need to agree to these changes?

The short answer is "No, you don't have to. BUT".

If you're after a good long term relationship with your tenants, it is important to put yourselves in tenant's shoes. This does mean that you have to agree with all the requests. Landlords have to manage their properties with their heads, not their hearts. It is a business, after all. However, to build trust and loyalty, it helps to be understanding and respond to your tenants' concerns quickly.

Any change/variation to the original agreement should be made in writing, dated and signed by both tenants and landlords. The change will now form a part of the agreement.

We hope you found this article useful. Learn more about the most commonly asked questions about rent and bond


The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. myRent.co.nz does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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